Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 1
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! India (Bharat) is the land of religion and spirituality. All the incarnations have taken birth in Bharat. What is the reason behind this?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Bharat is yogabhumi, the land of spirituality. Bharat is punyabhumi, the sacred land. Bharat is karmabhumi, the land of sacred activity. Bharat is tyagabhumi, the land of renunciation. Here saints, sages, seers, aspirants, seekers and devotees pray to God to enjoy His proximity. This necessitates the descent of God in human form or incarnation. In response to their fervent appeals and prayers, God, out of His grace and compassion, descends on Earth or incarnates and moves amidst us. Devotees then experience bliss and follow Him.
Here is an illustration. You asked why Bharat alone has always been the birthplace of the incarnations. You know that the train has an engine in the front with several carriages connected to it. The power or energy generated there in the engine pulls the carriages forward. Where do you find the driver? Naturally, he sits in the engine monitoring the train, does he not? Similarly, in the train of the world, Bharat is in the position of an engine and the carriages are the several countries attached to it. God is the driver. The engine is His place. Just as we find heat and power generated there, we also find the same elements produced as a result of sacred rituals such as yajnas and yagas performed from time to time in this land of Bharat.
In the great epic, the Mahabharata we find Arjuna and Bhima always following Dharmaja. Here, Arjuna stands for intelligence while Bhima symbolises physical strength. Now, Bharat is in the position of Dharmaja. America is Arjuna, while Russia is Bhima. Just as you find Bhima and Arjuna obeying the command of Dharmaja, America and Russia should follow Bharat.
In the very name “Bharat” we have three letters. (Written in Telugu, “Bharat” comprises three letters). Bha, the first letter stands for bhava or feeling, ra, the second signifies raga, tune, or melody, and ta, the third indicates tala or beat. Thus, Bharat is the country where the glory of God is sung with bhava, raga and tala. This country has another name Hindudesam which means a country that shuns violence, ‘Him’ himsa or violence, ‘du’ du ra or shuns. For these reasons God has chosen to incarnate or descend in human form in Bharat.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! We find people of every religion following a specific sacred text and a particular path. But in Sanatana Dharma, we have numerous paths, texts, and procedures such as dualism, qualified non-dualism and non-dualism, the nine paths of devotion, the six Darsanas, the four Vedas, numerous Sastras, and so on. How are we to understand these and practice the principles of Sanatana Dharma?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Sanatana Dharma is the most ancient spiritual way of life. Its diversity matches the spectrum of human behavioral tendencies, temperaments and mental attitudes. It is practical and confers divine experiences.
A small example. You buy a piece of cloth and give it to a tailor to make a suit for you. The tailor will get your suit ready according to your measurements, does he not? You cannot wear a dress made for someone else. It may be too loose or too tight, too long or too short. Therefore, your dress must be according to your size. Similarly, some may like Rama, some Siva, Krishna, and so on. They find it easy to concentrate on the deity of their choice, whereas the followers of other faiths may have to wear one dress of one and the same size.
Another example. You may know the nadasvaram, the South Indian musical instrument required to be played on every auspicious occasion. To maintain srti or rhythm by way of an accompaniment, one person plays an instrument in the same way all through. On the other hand, with nadasvaram you can play any number of ragas or tunes. Sanatana Dharma is like the nadasvaram.
Another example: Whatever, the combination of optional subjects you may take in Science during your undergraduate programme, be it ‘M.P.C.’ (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) or “C.B.Z.” (Chemistry, Botany and Zoology), you get a B.Sc. degree. Similarly, in the university established by Sage Vyasa, you can opt for any course like the Sastras, the Vedas, the Upanishads, etc. This is the significance of our ancient Sanatana Dharma, which gives ample freedom for you to select and follow.
Another example: A pharmacist and a cafe owner got headache on the same day. Seeking relief, the pharmacist went to the cafe for a cup of coffee, and the cafe owner to the medical shop for a tablet. So one has faith in a cup of coffee while the other trusts a tablet. In the same way, you should follow the spiritual path you believe in, and the text that is convincing and appealing to you.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Muslims go to a mosque every Friday to pray (namaj), and Christians go to a church every Sunday. Then, how is it that Hindus do not meet in a temple like other religious groups?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You are wrong if you think Hindus should. They are not required to specially meet on a specific day like others. Why? Every Hindu has a puja room or an altar in his home particularly meant for worship. He prays there every day. So there is no need for him to assemble for mass prayer or to pray on specific days like people belonging to other religions.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Since God is omnipresent and omniscient, do we need temples and should we go on pilgrimage to holy places like Shirdi, Puttaparti, Tirupati, and so on?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: This is a foolish question. You are exhibiting your ignorance and your ‘fashionable’ way of thinking, which, more often than not, is incorrect. There is no relationship between what is said and what is experienced. You say that God is everywhere. But it is merely an expression, vocal and verbal. Do you really have strong faith that God is present everywhere? Do you have that experience of the divinity, which is all pervasive? You are simply speaking like a parrot.
I give you here a simple example. Blood circulates throughout the body of a cow. But you can draw milk only out of the udder! You can’t squeeze the ear or twist the tail of a cow to get its milk, can you? Therefore, the all pervading God can be visualised and experienced in a temple and at a holy pilgrim centre.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Why did the ancient rishis, sages and saints, choose forests to undertake tapas or penance? Why did they prefer solitude?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There is significance undoubtedly. Why did they choose forests for penance? Here is an example. Suppose an exhibition is organised in a city. Naturally, the stalls there and the articles kept there for sales attract you. The music, eatables, clothes, etc., draw you. The exhibits attract your senses since you find them right before you. But in a forest, there is nothing to attract or distract your attention.
Solitude helps you to maintain the inner peace and tranquility needed for meditation. It provides a congenial atmosphere for spiritual life. So, saints and sages always did penance in forests. In other words, “forest” is “for rest” spiritually.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! We don’t find any understanding between any two persons, but only mutual bickering and differences. We hardly find any unity or brotherhood between man and man. What is the reason?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There is one thing you should clearly know when you think of unity and differences among people. What is the reason? Today there is no understanding between any two persons. The absence of understanding is the main cause of all the conflicts, enmity, and differences. Therefore, people do not adjust with others. Adjustment is possible only when there is understanding. But, today you are moving in the opposite direction. You think that you can adjust first and then understand each other. But, that is wrong. You must first understand and adjustment then becomes easy.
Here is a small illustration. When there is perfect understanding between you and your wife, she does not mind if you return home late from your office. She pities you and sympathizes with you. With all her concern and love, she brings you a cup of coffee. But, if by any chance, there is a slight misunderstanding, and your return from office is delayed even by five minutes, there will be a civil war at home. Why? Misunderstanding is the cause of her inability to adjust. It makes her put questions like: “Where have you been till now? Where did you go? With whom did you spend the time?” etc. So understanding is very necessary for proper adjustment. Many problems of society today can be solved if this is realised.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Hindus are criticised for worshipping idols, trees, etc. Many think that this is all superstition and blind faith. What do you feel about this, Swami?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Bharat is the spiritual centre of the world. This is the country that practised, preached and propagated that divinity exists in all the living and the nonliving, right from an atom to the entire cosmos. You will notice that here, in this country, putta, anthill, gutta, mountain, chettu, tree and pitta, bird are objects of veneration and worship. An anthill is worshipped as the abode of Lord Subrahmanya, a bird is respected as the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, a mountain is spiritually important as it is viewed as Govardhana lifted by Lord Krishna, and a tree is worshipped as the asvatthavriksa. All objects are divine according to our scriptures. This is not superstition. This is not in any way blind faith. Sanatana Dharma wants us to view, feel, and experience divinity everywhere. This is the spiritual path. This is the highest and noblest experience.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Kindly tell us what is to be done in our country now?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You don’t have to protect your country now. You should protect and uphold Sathya and Dharma. You should of necessity follow these twin principles. They will protect the entire universe. You should develop love for the Universe in all its vastness and magnitude.
Love all and serve all. You should rise above the narrow limits of caste, creed and nationality. You should believe in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. You should never waste time. Gratitude must be expressed by rendering service to the society in which you are born, grew up, made money and earned reputation. Be patriotic and strive for integration, harmony, peace and security in society. You should follow and uphold the great and unique Indian culture.
Cultivate human values and realise the divinity within you. Politics without Principles, Commerce without Morality, Science without Humanity, and Education without Character are not only useless, but also dangerous. You should be a perfect, ideal man. You are from God. You are the spark of the Divine. Hence, your qualities should be daiva, divine and not dayyam, demonic. You say, “I am a human being”. This is only half a truth. The other half is, “I am not an animal”. You should give up animal qualities. If you have both bestial and human qualities, it means your mind is dual. The man with a dual mind is half blind.
If you place a ceiling on your desires, you will be happy. He who has many desires is the poorest man. The man with contentment is the richest man. Guna, virtue is more important than ana, wealth.
You should know the purpose and the goal of life. Life is not for eating, drinking, and sleeping alone. Animals also do the same. What is your specialty, then? God has gifted you this life in order that you may know, experience and realise the divinity within you. Morality and integrity are very important. Nitiye jati, morality, indeed, is national character. A Telugu verse runs as follows:
adi vadalitiv o kotikante hinud avu,
jati gauravamu ni tipai nilucunu
ni ti kalugu jati nijamaina jati
Without character, you are worse than a monkey. The prestige of a nation depends on its morality. That nation alone deserves to be called a nation when it truly maintains high standards of morality and individuality.
You should always remember these three important points. The first is: do not trust the way of the world. Sometimes it not only deludes and distracts you, but betrays you also. The second is: never forget God who is always with you, in you, above you, below you. Nay, you are God. The third is: do not fear death, as it is sure to take place. In fact, death is the dress of life. Follow the sacred path in life by maintaining unity in thought, word and deed.
There is one more thing I want you to note. Open your heart and close your mouth. Today, people speak what they don’t really mean; their hearts are full of jealousy, pride, envy, and what not. I want you to open your heart and be free from all those that pollute it and close your mouth. Dedicate your life to service. Keep God as your ultimate aim and goal. This is what I mean when I say, “Hands in society and Head in the forest”.
You should share your precious knowledge and valuable experience with others. You should share Sai’s message with others. Have faith in yourself first and then you can trust God. The real cause of the problem of the present day lies here. You don’t have faith in yourself. You have no self-confidence.
Consider gramaseva, rural service as Rama Seva, service to God. Explain clearly to the villagers issues like hygiene, health, cleanliness, and organise medical camps. Ensure to everyone water supply, especially drinking water supply. Tell them about the evil effects of smoking and drinking. Help them to get rid of these bad habits. If you work and serve mingling closely with the local people, in course of time, they will be able to work independently and become self reliant. Service to man is service to God. Service is a greater and higher spiritual path than meditation, penance, worship and chanting. Serve the poor and the needy.
Don’t be selfish. Don’t give any scope for jealousy, pride and attachment. Develop virtues like devotion, adherence to truth, discipline, broadmindedness, and never yield to pomp, pride and egoism. Bad qualities are like tigers while noble qualities are like cows. Will tigers allow cows to live? No. So, don’t have any evil tendencies in your heart. You should imbibe human values more and more, and live up to the ideals you cherish.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Kindly tell us about Vasishtha and Visvamitra the two sages who are very prominent in the Ramayana?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: In ancient days, kings were always guided by their preceptor. They consulted him on all major issues. That was how satya and dharma were maintained and upheld. History shows instances when kings approached their gurus for blessings and guidance, and thus became great. You know how King Krishnadevaraya was guided by his mentor and preceptor, Vidyaranya, and Emperor Sivaji by Samartha Ramadas.
Rama and Lakshmana followed Sage Visvamitra, learnt archery from him and killed demons like Khara and Dushana who were obstructing and desecrating Vedic rituals like yajnas and yagas in the forest. Thus, Visvamitra was instrumental in demonstrating to the world at large the valour and expertise of Rama and Lakshmana. Visvamitra also taught Rama the most sacred mantra, the Gayatri. Visvamitra was also responsible for the divine wedding of Sita and Rama, which was in essence a union of prakriti, matter and purusa, energy, the Absolute one. He was and is the mitra, friend, of visva, the entire Universe, and so the name of the sage has been so apt and befitting.
Visvamitra was the one who gave Gayatri Mantra to mankind. As he was growing in spiritual stature, he wished to be called Brahmarshi by Vasishtha. He was always competitive and envious of Vasishtha to the extent of even resolving to kill him. On a full moon day he planned to kill Vasishtha and was holding in his hand a big stone to be thrown on his head. Meanwhile, he heard Vasishtha tell his wife Arundhati how bright and beautiful the moonlight was and how it was equal to the power of the penance of Visvamitra. His mind immediately changed and he fell at the feet of Vasishtha and the latter addressed him as Brahmarshi since he had conquered his ego.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Among the sages, how is Valmiki noteworthy?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The Ramayana was both composed and recited during the time of Rama’s incarnation. As for the great sage and ascetic Valmiki, besides being a contemporary of Rama, he, as the author of the Ramayana, is the very first poet. He gave shelter to Sita, renowned for her virtue and chastity, brought up her sons, Lava and Kusa, and taught them archery and all the arts. Thus, he played a vital role in the Ramayana.
Having completed the Ramayana, he thought deeply about popularising such a great work. At that juncture, Lava and Kusa came forward and took a vow in the presence of Valmiki and other distinguished sages that they would themselves sing the Ramayana and offer its nectar to people all over the world. Thus, Valmiki has the unique distinction of composing the divine Ramayana as Rama’s contemporary and having it sung in Rama’s presence. Valmiki proclaimed to the whole world the ideals and divinity of Rama, the protector of the world and the inspirer of His muse. Thus, it was only from the Tretayuga that the divinity within humanity began to shine forth.
The purpose of the incarnation of Rama was to pass on to mankind the whole duty of man. What is happening today is exactly the same phenomenon. You would have noticed how in the present avatar too, biographies are written by contemporaries and the Divinity is acknowledged, worshipped, experienced, and celebrated all over the world. That all this is happening during the time of the incarnation is another parallel to Rama’s descent. The same Ideal! The same Love! The same Message, viz., the practice of Sathya and Dharma.
Upanishad means the “inner” or “mystic teaching”. The term Upanishad is derived from “upa” (near), “ni” (down) and “shad” (to sit), i.e., sitting down near. Groups of pupils sit near the teacher to learn from him/her the secret doctrine. In the quietude of the forest hermitages the Upanishadic thinkers pondered on the problems of deepest concerns and communicated their knowledge to fit pupils near them. The most well known Upanishads are: Aitareya, Brihadaranyaka, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Kena, Isa, Svetasvatara, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Prasna, Kausitaki, Maitrayani, Kausitaki, Muktika and Shakta. The Satyopanishad is the Upanishad of Truth (Sathya) but more specifically the Truth as revealed by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Anil Kumar questions the illustrious Guru and provides us with Sathya Sai Baba’s answers to ponder, ruminate and derive ananda.
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